BB:** We're rolling through the division here. It's interesting looking at Buffalo. [They're] obviously a good football team; tough, a very tough-minded team. I think Doug [Marrone] has done a good job with that team. It's a little different than the team we saw in midseason. Offensively that was, I think, [Kyle] Orton's second game. They had just kind of made the switch. I think offensively this group has definitely expanded and have a lot more of their offense, it's a lot more conducive to, and they built that relative to Orton being the quarterback. Real good group of skill players; the receivers are good. [Sammy] Watkins has continued to improve and [Robert] Woods and they have a good group there. [Chris] Hogan has done a real good job for them. Obviously the backs are good with [C.J.] Spiller back now. They've gotten good production out of those guys and they've used multiple players at that position. Of course the tight end, [Scott] Chandler, really killed us. We've got to do a great job of really defending there across the board. [They're] good in the kicking game, real good coverage units. They don't give up much. [Marcus] Thigpen has helped them in the return game, made a couple plays. Now they have Spiller back so it's another guy we'll have to be ready for. [Dan] Carpenter is having a good year. [Colton] Schmidt can definitely change field position for them. Of course, defensively, it's all the things that we know about: great pass rush, [they] lead the league in pass rush, lead the league in third down, they're at the top of the league in turnovers. They turn the ball over, they hit the quarterback, they convert on third down, haven't given up many big plays – right at the top of the league in that and the passing categories. Coach [Jim] Schwartz has done a real good job with that unit. It will be a big challenge for us there Sunday all the way across the board. Obviously, they beat the Jets handily in both games, beat Green Bay, played very competitively in the Denver game on the road a few weeks back. Good football team, well coached, tough, physical. We had our hands full with them up there and I'm sure we will on Sunday, too.
Q:** What are some of the things that have allowed Scott Chandler to have the level of success he's had against you guys?
BB: He's got good skills. Long, tall guy. Obviously, they have a lot of confidence in him, whichever quarterback it is. He's made big plays for them – not just against us, but he's certainly killed us. He's made other big plays, too. Good red area receiver, red area, goal line, third down. Big target, big catch radius; he's a hard guy to match up on. We've had a lot of trouble with him.
Q: Yesterday on the conference call, you said you were focused on the Bills and since then you guys got locked into the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. What is your reaction to that?
BB: I don't think it really has a big effect on what we've been doing. [We'll] just keep getting ready for Buffalo. That's what our challenge is. What our position is, it is, but that will all take care of itself in due course. It doesn't really have anything to do with right now.
Team photographer, David Silverman, offers his best photos from the Patriots-Jets game on Sunday, December 21, 2014.
Q:** You've been in this situation before, as you lead into the week, would you consider managing players based on that situation?
BB: We'll do the same thing we always do. It won't be any different this week than it's been any other week. It won't be any different this year than it's been any other year. We'll do what we feel is best for our football team, period. Whatever's best for our team then that's what we'll try to do.
Q: What have you seen from Tavon Wilson over the course of this year that allows you to trust him in some key situations defensively?
BB: I think that's a position that we've really been healthy at. So the guys who have played – Duron [Harmon] and Patrick [Chung] – have gotten an opportunity, Devin [McCourty] obviously, have kind of fallen into their role. The guys behind them have gotten less opportunity. It's just kind of the way it's gone. Tavon is always well prepared, works hard, does a good job for us when he's in there. We've [been] pretty healthy at that position, but we certainly don't have any problem with him on the field. We've used him in some other packages. He's done well for us – so have the other guys. It's been a good situation. They've all contributed in the kicking game. Devin has contributed, Chung has contributed, Tavon, Duron. We're getting a lot of plays out of all those guys, plus Nate [Ebner]. Nate is another guy that he missed a little bit of time there after the Kansas City game, but he's been coming on defensively as well, as well as a solid role in the kicking game. Any time you have a player like that that's one of your top special team players, you try to find roles for them on offense or defense and Nate would certainly fall into that category. It just hasn't really worked out that way to a high degree or for Tavon for that matter, just based on, again our health and depth at that positon. When they've had a chance to play, when Tavon has had a chance to play, he's been productive. We've seen that from him in the past, too. Last year was the Baltimore game, right around this time last year. He's had opportunities. He's been productive.
Q:** Do you have to spend a lot of time coaching kick returners or how much is purely instinct?
BB: We coach them a lot. I mean, certainly, you know, running skills are running skills, like running backs or receivers after they catch the ball, returners I think there's definitely an element of running with the ball. We still coach it. We coach running, we coach tackling, we coach those things, but a lot of coaching in terms of ball handling, the tendencies of the specialists that we're playing against, the conditions, the fundamentals of judging the ball and positioning, especially punts. I think really you catch punts with your feet more than you catch them with your hands. It's your position based on the way the ball is traveling as it comes to you based on the spin of the ball, the wind, how far it's traveling, cold, whatever it happens to be. Kickoff, the same thing. You need to take all those things into consideration: knowing the blocking patterns, knowing who their key coverage players are, which guys we have to double team, which guys we don't, which guys are free. All that, it's all a part of it. Yeah, it's a big part of it. We don't just roll the ball out there and play and hope for the best. We coach that in great detail.
Q:** How do you feel like Danny Amendola has done this year?
BB: Good, good. I mean Danny has had a lot of different roles for us. In the kickoff returns, he's done a good job there, taking over that. And the punts, at times he's been the deep guy, like he was last week. Sometimes single, sometimes with another guy in front of him. Then he's also been the short returner in some of those two-deep looks. They're different, his responsibilities are different. If he doesn't get the ball as a short returner, then he's in part of the blocking pattern based on who his assignment is. If there's a more dangerous player, then obviously we would have to block the most dangerous even though his assignment is his assignment. But we don't want to pass up one to get to another one. There's a lot involved there. Then as the deep guy, there's all the judgment and the ball handling and so forth. There's the communication element whenever there's two guys back there. He's done a lot of different things for us. He's done a really good job. So has Julian [Edelman], so has Patrick. Going through years where you have concerns about that position, we're very fortunate we have good players back there, good depth. Whenever any of them have been called on, they've done a good job for us. Devin returning kickoffs as well, he's done that obviously in the past. I think he's done it once or twice this year. But it's another guy we can count on there. You know, you just never take those positions for granted. Just like your backup snapper, when Rob [Ninkovich] had to step in there and had to do that for us, you just never take those positions for granted because when you don't have them, you can find out in hurry how important they are. Depth and continued development of younger players and players in those roles, even though it might be a secondary role, is still very important.
Team photographer, Keith Nordstrom, offers his best photos from the Patriots-Jets game on Sunday, December 21, 2014.
Q:** What are some of the skills some of the great returners you've coached have all had?
BB: Well, I think it's like any other position. I don't think there's a set formula. We've seen running backs and receivers come in different shapes and sizes, different skill sets. Same thing with returners, but I think you have to do something to be able to make yards with the ball. Whatever that is, whether that's speed, whether it's change of direction, quickness, whether it's strength in running through tackles or some combination of those things. Punts are a lot different than kickoffs. Kickoffs you're able to get the ball, build speed, kind of see the blocking pattern develop or set it up, to a degree. Punts are a little different story. Sometimes you have that luxury, but a lot of times you have people on you a lot quicker. You have to handle the ball in traffic. You have to sometimes make guys miss in order to get started, to get the return started. It's definitely a different type of play. Troy [Brown] was very good. He had his style: strong, hard to tackle, wasn't the fastest guy, but he was very hard to tackle because of his playing strength and his short space quickness, very good hands. Julian has more speed than Troy did, but less experience, but he's certainly gained experience as he's been doing it. Some guys, especially in kickoff returns, you get those big, strong, powerful guys that run through tackles. They're not elusive, but they're hard to tackle. They're big and strong and physical. The, going back to when I was with the Giants, like the Mike Nelms type of guys; Bo Jackson, guys like that that are just, they're not going to dodge you, but getting them on the ground is a whole other story. So, judgment in punt returns, ball handling and some ability to make yards on your own. Kickoff returns: handling the ball which is a little less difficult, but still you have to be able to do it and being able to make yards on your own. We've had Devin McCourty back there returning kickoffs, we've had [LeGarrette] Blount returning kickoffs – two totally different type players. They've both been productive.
Q:** Brandon Bolden has made some big plays on special teams and on offense. It seems like he's gotten more opportunities at running back lately. What has allowed him to do that and what is his value?
BB: Brandon, like we know, has a real good skill set. [He was] very productive in college. He has the ability to play on all four downs. He can play on first down, second down, third down as a receiver, as a pass protector, third down, fourth down in the kicking game, the short-yardage, goal line plays, [he's] got enough size and power to run in those situations. He's been a real productive player for us in the kicking game. His versatility at that position is hard to find. He's a smart guy. He does a lot of things without taking a lot of reps, which there's a lot to be said for that, too. You can't give everybody every play at that position. He does a great job of not taking all the plays, but always being prepared and knowing what to do when we call on him, which when you get into pass protection and third down sub pickups and things like that, that's not easy. But that's something that Shane [Vereen] does very well. Shane gets a lot of reps at that, but you have to have somebody to back him up that you can depend on. Brandon has been very valuable for us as a four-down player.
Q:** Was there ever any concern based on age or size that Vince Wilfork would be able to bounce back from his injury last year? How impressed have you been with his play this year?
BB: I mean, any player that has an injury during the season, you always monitor their progress during the offseason and whatever their targets are, whether it be offseason program, OTAs, training camp, whatever the kind of realistic time frame is, you monitor that as time goes along. You get closer to it and see whether they're at those or ahead of them or behind them or you might have to readjust them. We did that with Vince and he was on target. He did all the things, most of things, in the spring and training camp. He's been durable. He's held up well this year. I can't remember him missing a practice. He might have missed one, but it wasn't many. He hasn't missed practice, he's been out there every day and he's played a lot of snaps in the games. He's held up well.
Q:** In 2011 and 2012, it seemed like he was playing defensive line as well as anyone in the league. How has he held up this year?
BB: I think we've all seen Vince play enough to see what his playing style is. It's different than some other players. I think that it is what it is.
Q: Is he still one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league?
BB: Yeah, he does a good job. Again, in the areas that I'd say are his long suits, he's a powerful guy, he's very smart and instinctive. It's hard to fool him on those type of plays, screens or traps or misdirection plays, those kind of things. He's a hard guy to block in the areas that he's in.
Q: How important has it been for Sealver Siliga and Alan Branch to contribute at the level they've contributed to help manage Vince's playing time so he's fresh at the end of the season?
BB: Look, it's good to have as many good defensive players as you can have on your roster, period, at every position. So, the more of them you have, the better off you are. Corners, safeties, interior linemen, edge players, linebackers, yeah, nobody in the league has too many of them. I'm just telling you, nobody in the league has too many. Every one helps and they're all important. There's certainly a certain level of integration and interfacing of all those because depth in one position may, even though it's not – linebackers don't play defensive tackle and defensive ends don't play corner, but there are times when depth in one position can help you defensively help manage another position. The more you have, the better it is, the more you can utilize everybody, the more flexibility, the better you can match up against your opponents. It's what every team in the league is trying, where they're trying to be. The more the better.
Q:** In other sports, managers and coaches talk about getting their teams ready for the postseason. Is there anything in football that correlates to being able to get a team ready for the postseason?
BB: I don't really know enough about those other sports and playoffs and all that. I'm familiar with lacrosse, I don't think that's really too applicable right here. All I know is what I do, what I've done. I've been doing this for 40 years, I've been fortunate to be in a lot of these postseason situations over that period of time, some as a head coach, some as an assistant coach observing other people do it. I think in the end I try to utilize our staff, which we have a lot of experienced staff members, both on the coaching staff and in other areas of the organization and do what's best for our football team every single day and every single week and every single year. That's all I try to do. The answer to every question really is the same. Based on the information, based on the situation, [I] always try to do what's best for the team. Every year is different, every team is different, every situation is different. That's why every evaluation has to be different. Maybe the decision is the same, maybe it's different, I don't' know. But [I] always try to do what's best for the team. It's the same answer to every one of those questions.
PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY PRESS CONFERENCE WITH NEW ENGLAND MEDIA
Q:** What are you looking forward to getting for Christmas?
TB: It's better to give than receive. Things are good.
Q: Could you talk about how far the team has come since being 2-2 going into Week 5?
TB: Yeah, I think we've still got one really important game left for us, and we're going to go out there and play really hard against a team that is a good team. They've played a lot of good football this year, and we'd obviously like to end on a high note and try to go out there and play a really good game for 60 minutes. That'd be great for our offense to be able to do.
Q: How important is it to end the season with a win?
TB: It's important. They're all important. I think they all take on different meanings, and this is a big game for us in that it gives us an opportunity to try to improve certainly on last week's performance and with the week off, you realize we're going to have a little time to rest up. We just want to go out and play well and see if we can string together as many good plays as possible. This defense will challenge you. They've got a good front, one of the best defenses in the league, one of the best defenses we've faced all year. They're tops in the league in almost every category. We've played a lot of good defenses this year. This one doesn't really take a backseat to anybody. We'll have to, on a Christmas week, deal with a little bit of a different schedule like we are today and have enough mental toughness to go out there and try to be at our best.
Q:** What is your thought process on your offensive execution at this point heading into the postseason?
TB: You can't look past this week. I think we have to improve our execution this week, and it starts with practice today to see if we can do a better job with our communication, with our overall understanding of one another and what we're trying to accomplish out there on every play. When you don't do it consistently, it's hard to score points. The more we can be on the same page, the more we can understand the anticipation of each other and the more we understand what we're all trying to do, the better we're going to be and the more we're going to score points. It'll be good for us to go out there and try to score a lot of points this weekend. That's really the goal is to try to score every time we touch the ball. This defense challenges you in a lot of ways to stop you from doing that, so it'll be good for us to be able to do it.
Q: What did you see from this defense in the Green Bay and Denver games when they held those offenses in check?
TB: They've got a great defense. They challenge you. They've got good coverage. They've got 50 sacks, 30 turnovers. So, when you get two a game sacking the quarterback that means you're forcing them into long-yardage situations and punting. So, between the turnovers and the punts, you just don't score many points. They really have a lot of good players at every level of the defense, a very mentally and physically tough team. We're going to have to match that, we're going to have to bring our own intensity, bring some emotion and try to go out there and execute really well.
Q: Wrapping up the No. 1 seed was obviously a goal this season. How much do you allow yourself to reflect on that accomplishment?
TB: That was really out of our control last night. I think we did our best to do our part on Sunday, which was good, but still the season is not over for us. There is plenty of time to think about things down the road down the road. This isn't the time for it. We've got to go play well this week. That is the attitude and that is what all the leaders of the team have to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Q: What do you like about the way you guys have played at Gillette Stadium this year?
TB: That's a good question. We've always played pretty well at home. Certainly, we've got great fans who support us. We've got the weather elements, conditions – the wind always comes into play. Because we practice in that, I always feel like that's a great advantage for us, too. I think trying to get ahead of these teams and staying ahead and playing from ahead is really important to get the crowd into it. Our defense really feeds off of it, kind of like what happened in the Miami week. We didn't play really well in the first half, came out and made a bunch of plays in the second half and ended up winning by a bigger margin. We've got to be able to execute really well. I think more important than anything, the execution of what we're trying to do and what we're trying to accomplish is the most important thing. We've done a good job of that at home. It's going to be important this week to do that, for us to have a lot of urgency and to go out there and make as many good plays as possible.
Q:** How has your relationship with Josh McDaniels grown over the years?
TB: Quite a bit. We've been together for a long time, and I'm lucky to have him. He's a great coach, great person and a great friend. He's everything you ask for in a coach.
Q: Would you say he makes things easier for you?
TB: Absolutely. He makes everything easier for everybody. He's smart, he's very mentally tough, he tries to get the best out of us every week, he has high expectations. I think he's a great coach, a phenomenal coach.
Q: In the time you've spent practicing against him, what stands out to you about the play of Jamie Collins?
TB: He's become really a great playmaker for us. Certainly, the play he made last week was a great play. I hope he continues to make them. It's just his second year, so every year you grow and you learn more and you have a better understanding. Jamie has just done a great job in his role. We don't go against him much in practice. Our offense doesn't do that. He doesn't play scout team anymore.
Q: Did you see this in him last year when he was on scout team?
TB: I didn't pay attention much. He wasn't playing much scout team last year, either – maybe a little bit sporadically. All the credit goes to him and his work ethic and what he's been able to accomplish.
Q: With the first round bye and the holiday season, there seems to be time for a sense of accomplishment to sink in with younger players. Do you stay on that, along with the other leaders on the team, to let them know you're still building?
TB: I think Coach [Bill] Belichick always does a pretty good job of that. He expects our best every day. That's what we're obviously out there trying to do as well. Some weeks it looks better than others; some weeks it doesn't. Every week is different; the matchups are different each week. I think you just try to approach it the same way. It could be weeks like this where Christmas is right in the middle of the week and there's New Year's around the corner, and you might have a lot of other things going on, but for us it's football season and for guys who have been around it's football season. We've worked pretty hard to get to this point. I think this is the time to put the pedal to the metal and not really go the other direction.
Q:** As you go into the final week of the season, where does the offense stand and what needs to be done to get it to where it needs to be?
TB: I think we just have pretty high expectations for what we do. We're trying to score a lot of points. Our communication and our anticipation of one another need to continually get better, so that's what we go out in practice and try to do. Some weeks, like I said, it's better than others. Some weeks test you in different ways, and there are different matchups. Hopefully this week can be better than last week.
Q: In the past, is what you do in the last four weeks collectively more important than what you do in the last week of the season heading into the playoffs?
TB: Every game is important. I don't think you can just really generalize about months of football and so forth. Every game is really its own matchup. It's a whole different team; it's different everything. We just have to go out and execute as well as we can in this game. That's the only thing that matters. Nothing in the past has mattered. Nothing weeks from now is going to matter. I just think everybody's got to focus on what we need to do this week to try to make ourselves a better football team.
Q: How important is building momentum going into the playoffs?
TB: When it ends well, every team is always building momentum. I think the team that ultimately wins the final game of the year is the one that has had the best … There is only one team that wins the final game of the year once you start the playoffs, so everybody else has pretty bad seasons, unless you win the final game. Every team is trying to build, and I think when you win a bunch of games, you string a bunch together, you can build some momentum. Like I said, every game is different. Every game, you have an individual set of goals and you have an individual set of plays and matchups and so forth. You're just trying to get to the things that you're good at versus the things they're not good at, and every week those things are going to change. It's probably easier to look back and say we built momentum at that time rather than when you're in it, and you don't really feel like on a daily basis, like today was a good day for building momentum, so to speak. Like I said, it's probably easier to look back after things are finished to evaluate that.
Q:** What is a good target number for the plays that you want to run?
TB: That's a good question. It's a lot of complementary football when you think about play counts. Everybody has to do a job. We've got to do a good job on third down to stay on the field, to get our number of runs up, to keep our defense off the field. They have to do a good job on third down to keep their offense off the field to get us the ball back. There are games we've been in the mid-90s, which is great. When you're in the 50s, it's usually not very good. You're always going to find a balance in there somewhere. The more plays the better. That means you're staying on the field. That means you're converting on third downs. That means you're able to dictate the game. So, the more the better for me.
Q: Is there a positive to having healthy discussion and debate with Josh McDaniels about game planning? Do you have that give and take with Josh?
TB: Yeah, we do. He and I are always in communication on things you'd like to do or like to see. He's the play caller, and you want to be confident in things you're calling. As a quarterback you want to be confident in the things that you're doing, too. There is always a balance that you find there. Sometimes I might like something more than Josh likes it. There are maybe times where he likes something more than I like it. But we have a great relationship in order to communicate those things.
Q: There must be a trust involved when you talk about it afterwards in terms of what worked and didn't work, where you respect where each other is coming from instead of saying, 'See I told you so.'
TB: I don't think you ever point fingers in a team sport, and say, 'Well that was your idea,' or 'That was your fault.' You're in it together, so you cheer for each other. You hope that someone has a great idea that works. That's what you want. You want all the plays to be good plays at the end of the day, and you don't want to feel like … You'd never say, 'That was a crappy call,' or 'That was a crappy throw.' Everyone knows we're trying to get the best out of each other. You're always dealing with the process more than necessarily the result, because if you're always focused on the result, sometimes they make a good play, too. Even though you may make a good play, they make a better play and it doesn't go for any yards. But as long as you're thinking the right thing or seeing the right thing or evaluating the right thing and your process is still the right thing, you've got to think that you're going to win more than you're going to lose.
Q: In terms of communication, do you more or less go to Josh McDaniels, or do you keep the direct line of communication open with Bill Belichick?
TB:** Coach [Belichick] and I, we're always in communication, so we talk quite a bit throughout the week. He does a good job of letting me play, and I let him coach. That's what he wants me doing is going out there and playing well. And certainly with Josh, he and I are linked all the time in what we do. We're in every meeting together. We're always trying to figure out ways to gain more yards, score more points. That's what our jobs are, so we try to do that as well as we possibly can and when it doesn't go well, you go back and evaluate and you start again.
Q: How much different is the Bills defense compared to what you just saw with the Jets?
TB: Every team has a different style, and every team has a little different mix of players and they try to play to their strengths. They're different than last week. This team is ranked as high as probably any of the defenses that we've played all year, so they're doing a lot of things right. You try to play to the strengths of your players, and this team does a really good job of that. They've got really good rushers all up and down the front, really good guys at coverage linebacker, they're playing the run well, some hard-hitting safeties and some good cover guys. They've got a good group. They force you to make a lot of plays. They just don't give you any easy plays out there. They make you earn it.
PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK CONFERENCE CALL WITH BUFFALO MEDIA
Q: What do you think the Bills have to do to end the 15-year playoff drought?
BB: Well look, all we're really focused on is this game. Whatever has or hasn't happened in the past about us or anybody else really is not something that I'm focused on or really even care about. It doesn't make any difference. It's just about matchups week to week. This week, there's so much we have to be ready for. [There are] so many things Buffalo does well. We've seen that in the way they easily handled the Jets twice and beat Green Bay and the tough game that we had with them up there. We're going to have to do a great job in all three phases of the game against a team that's well coached, that's tough, that's played great defense, with a lot of very talented and skilled players, that's tough in the kicking game, both in the return game and the coverage game. [Dan] Carpenter has had a good year for them. Those are all challenges that we'll have to meet. What's happened some other year or whatever, I don't know, [it] doesn't really even matter.
Q: Do you feel like the offensive line play across the NFL is down in general?
BB:** Again, I don't really know. I don't see all the teams in the league play. I focus on the ones that we play. That's 13 teams – three teams we play twice. Those are really how we match up against those teams and how they match up against somebody else doesn't really – sometimes you study as part of your preparation, but it's not really what you're looking at. You're looking at the team that you play and what you can do against them, or what they can do against you, however you want to look at them. We've played against, certainly, a lot of good players on the offensive line through the course of the year. I think that, again, we'll be challenged by this group this week. Eric Wood does a great job for them. He's been there for a number of years, kind of the centerpiece; the guy that everything revolves around. [He's] a tough, smart player that was injured that one year, but has been very durable for them. [Kraig] Urbik has been in there for a whole bunch of games, probably half the season. I'd say [Erik] Pears, [Seantrel] Henderson and [Cordy] Glenn, I can't remember seeing them out of there. I might have missed it, but they're not out of there much. This group's been together pretty much all year and certainly for the last half of the year. I'd say four of those guys, like I said, I can't remember them not playing or not playing for very long. They're big, they're physical, their continuity and consistency has improved, like every position and every player and every team. There are always some plays that you can look at and say, 'That wasn't a good play.' You could say that about every player in the league at every position. I don't think you say that a lot about Buffalo in any area. They're a good football team. They're well coached. They do a good job all the way across the board: offense, defense, special teams. They've beaten some good football teams. They've played a lot of good football this year.
Q: Have you determined how long the starters will be in this weekend?
BB: We're going to do the same thing that we always do. We're going to do what's best for the New England Patriots. That's what we do every week. That's what I've always done. I can't imagine ever doing anything different.
Q: Can you talk a little bit more about the Buffalo defense? What impresses you about them this year?
BB: Really everything. I think they're strong all the way through. I think Coach [Jim] Schwartz has done a great job with that unit. They're hard to run against. They're hard to throw against. They haven't given up many big plays. [They] lead the league in third down, they've got good coverage people. [Corey] Graham has come in and done a good job for them. He's done a good job for them all year; he played safety against us when [Aaron] Williams was out. Then he's gone out, done a good job there when [Leodis] McKelvin was out. [Stephon] Gilmore has had a real good year. I think he's improved a lot over the course of the season. They've gotten very productive play from the safeties, especially more recently even having to use [Bacarri] Rambo in there in the Green Bay game. He had a couple big plays for them. They have been very good at the linebacker position. [Nigel] Bradham and [Preston] Brown have been really productive for them. They've really been impressive. Bradham is a good blitzer, strong tackler, good coverage player. He and Brown have both given them good speed behind the line. They're obviously in nickel defense a lot. Their front is a hard front to block. They've gotten production from their outside players, their inside players. They don't blitz a lot, but again, when they do, those guys do a good job. I mean, Bradham has been disruptive, [Brandon] Spikes has been disruptive. [Nickell] Robey has given them good plays in their nickel as the slot defender. When they've used Williams in there as kind of the other linebacker in some of their dime defenses, he's played well in terms of being a blitzer and playing closer to the line of scrimmage. [He's an] impact player, he's caused a couple fumbles. Good hitter, as is [Da'Norris] Searcy. They've got a physical element to their defense. They're fast. Those defensive linemen can really run. They make a lot of plays from the backside chasing plays down, screen plays or when the ball gets thrown downfield. You think that the guy is going to gain some yards and all the sudden it's Kyle [Williams] or Mario [Williams] or [Jerry] Hughes or [Marcell] Dareus, one of those guys running him down, just about the time you think he's going to break into some space. I think overall their ability to not give up big plays, to be a good third down team and get off the field, to cause negative plays, both in the running game and in the passing game, create long-yardage situations, all those things they're very good at, as good as anybody we've played. They're right at the top of the league in all those categories and you see it week after week after week.
DEFENSIVE BACK DEVIN MCCOURTY
(On what clinching the No. 1 seed means to the team)** "Not much for a Buffalo game. I don't think Buffalo cares much that we clinched the No. 1 seed. Right now I think it's good for us that our focus is on Buffalo. We realize this is a game we're playing and we want to go out there and win. We talked about after Thanksgiving is when football starts, and it's important for us to get better each time we step on the field. I think getting the No. 1 seed doesn't change that. We still want to go out there and play good football every time we go out there."
(On not thinking about the playoffs)
"The playoffs will come. When it's here it'll be here in full effect. We understand that. I think this team understands what it is to be in the playoffs. Right now we want to finish our season right."
(On his reaction to the No. 1 seed)
"It's my fifth year. I knew not much was going to change when we came in here today. It's always business as usual – focused on the next game. We've been in games where we've lost by a lot and the next week we had to focus on the next game. We've been in games where we've won by a lot and Bill [Belichick] has come in the same way. We're on to whatever team is next and this week it's Buffalo."
TIGHT END ROB GRONKOWSKI
(On his expectations on playing time this weekend)**
"I'm preparing to my ability that I do every single week. I'm preparing to my max and expecting to play the whole game."
(On what it's like to work with Tom Brady when the offense doesn't have its best game)
"It's the same every week. Every single week we want to get better. If we didn't do well in a game, even if we did really well, we still go out the following week and we go prepare and we practice the same every week."
(On the atmosphere playing at home this season)
"We love playing at home. I love playing at home. Our fans have been great. It's definitely great and I'm excited for another home game. Can't ask for anything better to be home this game and enjoy it and play in front of our fans."
(On what it felt like to play in every snap in the last game)
"It feels good. It feels back to normal. [I'm] playing football and just doing whatever the coaches ask me to do and just going out and doing my job."
(On the pride he takes in playing every snap)
"Definitely. That's what the coaches ask of me and I'm going to take pride in what the coaches ask me to do and do it to my max potential and do it at full speed. It's good, it feels good."